How Joel Kinnaman Overcame His Childhood Struggles and Became an Actor

How Joel Kinnaman Overcame His Childhood Struggles and Became an Actor

Who is Joel Kinnaman?

Swedish-American actor and model Charles Joel Nordstrom Kinnaman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 November 1979, meaning that Sagittarius is his zodiac sign. He’s appeared in 53 movies and TV series, but is perhaps known best for starring as Stephen Holder in all the 44 episodes of the crime mystery series “The Killing”, created by Veena Sud, and which also starred Billy Campbell and Mireille Enos. It follows the investigation following the discovery of the body of a 17 years old girl in the trunk of a submerged car, the series aired from 2011 through 2014 and won three of its 50 award nominations.

Joel’s today highly active in the film industry, and is currently shooting for the upcoming movies “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Silent Night” and “The Silent Hour”.

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Education and early life

Joel was raised in Stockholm alongside his five sisters (including half-siblings), by their Swedish mother Bitte Nordstrom who’s a therapist, and American-born Swedish father Steve Kinnaman, who was in the US Army and was sent to Vietnam prior to becoming a deserter.

Joel learned both English and Swedish while growing up – he spoke only English with his father, but was friends with Swedish actor and actress Alexander Skarsgard and Noomi Rapace while growing up. He spent a year in Del Valle, Texas as an exchange student, then upon matriculating in 1998 chose to travel the world. He earned money during the big adventure by working various jobs, including being a roof-sweeper in Norway, a bar manager in the French Alps, and a beer factory line worker.

Joel eventually enrolled at Malmo Theatre Academy in Sweden, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2007.

Roles in TV series

Joel was only 10 when he made his TV series debut, playing Felix Lundstrom in 33 episodes of the drama “Storstad”, which starred Maria Krantz and Lina Englund; it aired in 1990 and 1991, and follows a group of people living in Stockholm.

Joel didn’t appear in any movies or TV series until 2002, and his following TV series role came in 2008, when cast to portray Gustav in two episodes of the drama “Second Avenue”, created by Peter Emanuel Falck, and which starred Michael Merikan, Lena B. Nilsson and Fyr Thorvald Stromberg; it follows the lives of a former convict and his family. The year 2009 saw Joel play Byron in three episodes of the drama “183 Days”, and the year 2010 saw him portray Sverker Karlsson in an episode of the romantic action mini-series “Arn”.

In 2016 and 2017, he played Will Conway in 15 episodes of the hit drama “House of Cards”, which starred Michel Gill and Kevin Spacey, and was created by Beau Willimon. It follows the work of a congressman, the series aired from 2013 through 2018 and won 35 of its 253 award nominations.

Joel’s three most recent TV series roles have been in eight episodes of the 2021 drama “In Treatment”, 12 episodes of the action “Hanna” from 2019 through 2021, and currently 30 episodes of the science fiction “For All Mankind” since 2019.

Roles in movies

Joel’s debut film role was playing Kalle in the 2002 fantasy thriller “The Invisible”, which Joel Bergvall wrote and directed, and which starred Gustaf Skarsgard and Tuva Novotny; it follows a man who’s become invisible to the living and is about to die, and the film won 10 of its 13 award nominations. Some of Joel’s following roles were in the 2003 drama “A Different Way”, the 2005 musical comedy “Tjenare Kungen” and the 2009 drama “I Skuggan av Varmen”.

He played Christer Malm in the critically acclaimed 2011 crime mystery “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, which starred Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, and was directed by David Fincher. It follows journalist Mikael and computer hacker Lisbeth as they’re searching for a missing woman, and the film won 27 of its 118 award nominations, including an Oscar win for Best Achievement in Film Editing. Joel was then cast to appear in a number of award-winning movies, including the 2011 action adventure horror “The Darkest Hour”, and in 2012 the action thriller “Safe House” and the  crime action “Easy Money II: Hard to Kill”.

He portrayed Rick Flag in the 2016 action adventure fantasy “Suicide Squad”, which starred Jared Leto and Will Smith, and was written and directed by David Ayer. It follows a group of supervillains as they’re actually trying to prevent an apocalypse, and the movie won 18 of its 59 award nominations, including an Oscar win for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.

Some of Joel’s most recent film roles have been in thecrime action “Brothers by Blood” and the  thriller “The Secrets We Keep” both in 2020, and the 2021 action adventure comedy “The Suicide Squad”.

Other credits

Joel’s appeared in many talk-shows, most recently in “Hollywood Insider”, “The Roles That Changed My Life” and “Carpool Karaoke”.

Awards and nominations

Joel won a 2011 Guldbagge Award for Best Actor, for his performance in “Easy Money”.

He was also nominated for a 2021 Pena de Prata Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series, for his and his colleagues’ performance in “For All Mankind”, and a 2022 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Series, also for “For All Mankind”.

Love life and relationships

There a couple of women whom Joel’s been with, that we know about. He was married to Swedish tattooist Cleo Wattenstrom from 2015 through 2018.

Joel began dating Swedish-Australian model Kelly Gale in the first half of 2019, and they revealed in January 2021 that they had become engaged.

On 6 August 2021, Joel was granted a restraining order against his former girlfriend Gabriella Magnusson, whom he briefly dated in 2018; only five days later, the Swedish Prosecution Authority revealed that a woman had accused Joel of rape.

He’s yet to mention other women whom he’s been with, Joel’s engaged to Kelly Gale as of May 2023, and was married to Cleo Wattenstrom; he doesn’t have children.

Interesting facts and hobbies

Joel was born with the rare pectus excavatum condition, and two metal bars had to be inserted behind his ribs to push his sternum outward and correct the deformity.

He’s a huge soccer fan, and cheers for Hammarby IF.

Joel has a mixed accent, which he developed because of his constant travelling.

It’s believed that he once briefly dated actresses Olivia Munn and Jane Timglas, but this is yet to be confirmed.

One of his half-sisters is Melinda Kinnaman, who’s today a successful actress, perhaps still known best for playing Saga in the 1985 comedy movie “My Life as a Dog”.

Joel’s followed by over 1.3 million people on Instagram, even though he’s uploaded only a single picture onto the network.

He’s a fan of tattoos, and his left arm’s nearly entirely inked.

One of Joel’s favorite actors is Stellan Skarsgard, and some of his favorite movies include “Good Will Hunting”, “Dune” and “Exorcist: The Beginning”.

Height, eyes and wealth

Joel’s age is 43. He has brown eyes and hair, is 6ft 2ins (1.89m) tall and weighs around 180lbs (82kgs).

Joel’s net worth’s been estimated at over $14 million, as of May 2023.

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